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Your Summer Home Maintenance Checklist

Coast into summer, right after you complete your to-do-list.

Need another excuse to get outside? Here's 10. Read our tips to help you save and protect your investment (your home).

1. Watch your water use

Both over and under-watering your lawn and garden beds can cost you. And leaks from outdoor faucets, hoses or sprinkler systems can damage beds, walkways, basements and foundations — and even neighbouring properties.

  • Check outdoor hoses and faucets for new leaks or cracks, which can surprise you with flooding or costly water bills.
  • Fire up your sprinkler system and look for reduced water flow or soggy lawn spots indicating a leak.
  • Check your basement at the interior location of outdoor faucets for signs of leaks.
  • Not watering enough? Can kill greenery, affect soil conditions, encourage weeds and impact your home's 'curb appeal.'
  • Too much watering? Can increase water bills and fungus growth, choke out plants, trees and lawns, or damage structures.
  • Watch rain forecasts to shut off sprinklers, and get a rain/water gauge to know exactly how much water you're using.
  • Set a timer if you have a hose or sprinkler running.
  • Rain barrels are a great way to recycle water for use around the yard and reduce costs.

2. Storm and flood prep

Take simple steps to reduce the possibility of sudden storm damage around your home from heavy rain, winds, hail or lightning.

  • See a storm on the horizon? Shut your windows and doors in case of intense rainfall and to deter lightning from entering (and scorching) your home.
  • For hail warnings, draw curtains to help protect your home's interior in case of a window break.
  • Have outdoor glass tabletops? They're an explosion waiting to happen if hail gets big enough to break them. Consider replacing or covering them.
  • Take a few moments to protect valuables in the basement from potential flooding, and move important items away from walls, if possible.
  • Trees and bushes can grow fast in the summer. Keep them trimmed and clear of your roof, utilities and fence lines to reduce damage from powerful storm winds.
  • Have an older tree? Get it inspected to see if it could snap in a storm and should be removed.
  • Clear your gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage (at least 4 feet away from your house) to help prevent pooling at your foundation.

3. Lock it down

No one expects to see their trampoline or patio umbrella hurtling through the air — yet, it can and does happen. Storm winds can be mighty and unexpected, so plan ahead or take precautions.

  • Strong winds can catch surprising things, such as empty swimming pools, lawn chairs and tables, umbrellas, patio furniture, trampolines, badminton nets, or buckets — and launch them in a dangerous way that may damage your house or yard, or a neighbour's.
  • Secure heavier items into the ground or with stakes.
  • When not in use, store lighter items, like air-filled balls or rakes, out of the wind's way.
  • Make a daily habit of putting away toys and tools. A clean yard has less that can go wrong.

4. Fire it up, but be careful

Fire pits, fire tables and BBQs are a slice of summer. But proper use and maintenance when using these items are essential to keep the fire contained and prevent damage to your home.

  • Always check on fire bans in your area.
  • Have the lines for barbeques and patio heater gas hookups professionally inspected every year.
  • Don't use damaged propane tanks; properly store them when not in use.
  • Ensure that all 'fire-breathing' elements are far enough from your house and sides of your balcony or deck — and not close to anything that can either catch fire or melt from the heat.
  • For fire pits, install a fire screen to halt embers and protect from an accidental fall, and have water and extinguishers nearby. Always extinguish a fire completely before leaving the area.

5. Keep critters out

Pests aren't pests if they're in their rightful place — like not in your house or hiding under your yard stuff.

  • Mice and rabbits love nesting in wood piles. Store firewood above ground (hire a professional for a sturdy wood box or shelf) and keep circulating your supply to discourage furry stow-aways.
  • Rodents, and insects like bees, wasps or termites, can enter gaps and set up camp. Check for and seal holes and cracks along walls, windows, and your roof and foundation (don't forget hot tub hose-holes!).
  • Loose bricks and crumbling mortar can be a pest entry point. Hire a professional to repair and prevent further deterioration.
  • Inspect your window screens for tiny holes, tears, or gaps around the edges and replace them if needed.
  • Screen off areas under decks (check them first!) to prevent skunks, bobcats or raccoons from joining your backyard party.

6. Beat the heat

Your home helps keep you cool, so — help it help you. Take advantage of energy-efficient options, and ensure your system is ready for the summer-heat action.

  • Have central AC? Change filters and get it inspected for wear and tear. Check the outside unit for critters, debris and smoothly-running fans.
  • For portable AC units, clean out exhaust hoses and replace filters, if needed.
  • Check your attic for condensation, and ensure proper insulation and ventilation. If an attic doesn't have enough vents, it may overheat and cause damage to your roof.
  • A/C units can be electricity hogs. Install energy-efficient models and a programmable thermostat to keep cool for less cost.
  • Put up blackout curtains to keep the sun out, or install a north-facing window to bring in the cooler air.
  • Install ceiling fans throughout your home to vent the heat and draw cooler air upwards.

7. Check your home's systems

It's easier to repair or replace systems, like your furnace or the garage door, in the warmer months.

  • Inspect the roof for cracked, missing or lifting shingles and hail damage. Ensure soffits are free of water stains or soft spots (which may indicate a leak).
  • Flush out your hot water tank to get rid of sediment and extend its operating life.
  • Get a gutter expert to inspect your water drainage system (like eavestroughs) for recommendations on improving water runoff.
  • Check indoor hose connections, such as your washing machine, dishwasher, icemaker and toilets, for leaks or cracking — they typically need replacing every 3-5 years.
  • Replace furnace filters with HEPA-grade ones to filter out the pollen and allergens carried by the summer air.
  • Not confident about your garage door operation this past winter? Now's the time to have it looked at and plan for repairs.

8. Yard revamp

Get caught up on yard improvements and repairs to retain your home's value and maintain your summer haven.

  • Repair fencing, driveway cracks, and re-level walkways and patios that may have shifted with winter freeze-thaw cycles.
  • Now is a great time to repaint or replace siding, stucco, trim, fences or decks — keeping an eye on the rain forecast to allow enough drying time.
  • As your yard grows, your beds may need expansion to allow enough room for trees and shrubs.
  • To reduce costs and upkeep, consider replacing grass lawn sections with water-conserving options, such as rock gardens or lower-maintenance ground covers.
  • Adding a tree for shade or a nice, low-maintenance deck or patio can up your home's appeal and value.

9. Clean and gleam

Pressure washers. Window squeegees. Hoses. Brooms. It's a lot easier to clean in the summer temps to clear away the dirt, pollen and debris.

  • Some people really like their pressure washers. But be cautious and hire a professional if you're not confident in using one. They can damage driveways, siding and stucco, strip paint, and push water into undesirable areas if not used properly.
  • Cleaning your windows inside and out makes you realize how beautiful summer is (because you can see more clearly). Hire a professional if windows are out of reach.
  • Clear out the weeds and debris from your garden beds and pathways to put the spotlight on your beautiful plants and flowers.
  • Clean your garage floor and deck (sweeping conserves water).
  • A fresh coat of paint on your fence, deck or outdoor items can make them sparkle like new.
  • Keep furniture brushed or washed off to discourage pests and invite enjoyment.

10. Vacation prep and precautions

Your bags are packed. But is your home prepared for your departure?

  • Check with your home insurance provider about their 'unoccupied' policies to ensure you're covered.
  • Have someone periodically check your home. Sudden happenings, like flooding or an alarm-system battery replacement, may need immediate attention.
  • Buy self-watering bulbs and planters, and have someone maintain your lawn if gone for an extended time.
  • Make sure to leave your downspouts down in case it rains.
  • Install programmable light timers inside and motion-detector lights outside.
  • Clean out your fridge! Bananas and potatoes can rot in your absence. Take out any garbage that might smell up your home.
  • Unplug non-essential appliances, such as TVs, computers and stereos to protect from power surges.
  • Turn down your thermostat to conserve energy and reduce costs.
  • Shut your main water valve (unless you have a sprinkler system) or specific water valves (e.g. sink) and turn your water heater off or to 'vacation mode.'
  • Check your detectors! Make sure they're in working order with fresh batteries.

Ahhh, summer. Putter in the yard, and leave the mortgage work to us.

Summer is a fabulous time to get to your home to-do list. You'll get emotional encouragement from the birds singing, the flowers blooming and a warm-weather body-wrap that melts away the stress.

It's also a great time to truly appreciate your home — taking action to protect its value and stay on top of repairs, and to make sure your mortgage still works for you.

Need extra funds for yard or home upgrades? Or want an expert broker to suggest ways that you can save more or free up budget space? Talk to us about your mortgage refinance or other changes for a stress-free way to get it done.

Please note that the above tips are considered best home-maintenance practices; however, details and results may vary.

Give us a shout. We're happy to help you save thousands, anywhere you are in Canada — online, over the phone or at one of our convenient store locations.

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